Think About It: Ferry Interesting… - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

October 13, 2014

Think About It: Ferry Interesting…

A conference of sorts was held last Monday at Pier 19 of Honolulu Harbor, where the discussion was about revamping the Superferry, or some form of Superferry, here in Hawaii. As it's been about six years since the Superferry stopped sailing, declared bankruptcy, and ended up selling its two ships, one of which never even made it out here, some people might be forgetting some of the real problems the Superferry had- beyond the obvious and headlined issues.

Yes there were real tactical issues beyond the government's rushed circumventing of environmental laws, the concerns over contact with whales and the Kauai protesters bobbing in the water. Alongside reports of rampant nausea among passengers when the seas were rough, the business model for the original Superferry simply wasn't panning out. While the Alakai ship had the capacity for 860 passengers and almost 300 cars on its Oahu to Maui run, the vessel often times was half-full or worse, and the economics here, not to mention the imposing legal battles, made the initial concept untenable over time.

If we are to have truly affordable, relatively comfortable Neighbor Island water transportation system for people and their cars, then a new business model, starting with a more stable vessel, will have to be designed. Some are suggesting making the ferry's voyage between islands a slower one, complete with entertainment, gambling while at sea, wining and dining. Good luck on that gambling thing. Getting government approval for a Superferry-type of entity is one thing; figuring out the economics to make the boat viable- and it always comes down to money- will be vital to get and keep this vessel floating. Hawaii's Superferry effort was a love bloat to some and a love blight to environmentalists, and no savvy entrepreneur will want to go down that unsuccessful shipping lane again. Think about it… 

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